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Presentation of the French Polynesia

Member state: France
Surface area: 2.5 million km²
(ZEE: 5.5 million km²)
Population: 267000
(Census 01/01/2010)
Density (/km2): 68
(Tahiti : 498)
Capital : Papeete (Tahiti)

ENGLISH VERSION TO BE UPDATED FROM ONLINE FRENCH VERSION

Location

Located in the centre of the South Pacific, Tahiti is at a distance of 18000 km from Paris, 8800 km from Tokyo, 6600 km from Los Angeles, 6000 km from Sydney.

Surface area

In the South Pacific, French Polynesia spreads over a huge sea area comparable to the one of Europe (5,5 million km²).

Topography

French Polynesia has 118 inhabited islands, representing 3600 km² of land mass, grouped into five archipelagos: the Society Islands, the Marquesas Islands, the Austral Islands and Gambier, primarily composed of high islands, and the Tuamotu Islands exclusively composed of atolls of madreporic origin (narrow ring of corail, with no relief). The high islands are surrounded by lagoons with beaches of white sand. Other islands have no lagoon with beaches of black sand. The highest peak is Mount Orohena, in Tahiti, with an altitude of 2240 meters.

Climate

French Polynesia’s climate is warm and humid, tempered by southeast trade winds. The alternation between dry seasons and wet seasons presents low contrasts: the climate is hot and rainy from November to April and cool and dry from May to October. Average temperature is 25.8 °C in February, the warmest month, and 24.3°C in August, the coldest month. The average annual exposure to sun in French Polynesia ranges from 1970 hours in the Austral Islands in the South, to 2270 hours and more in the Tuamotu Archpilago.

Economic activities

Since the end of the 90s, French Polynesia has focused its economic reform on three main export activities: tourism, pearl farming and fishing. At the same time a policy of active regional integration has been initiated. However, these key activities have been substantially impacted by the global crisis which led French Polynesia to develop new industries, such as digital economy and renewable energies.

Political and administrative status

French Polynesia is an overseas country of the French Republic whose autonomy is declared in Article 74 of the French Constitution. It has an enhanced autonomy status since 2004. Its parliament is democratically elected and its autonomous government is managing public affairs. Its citizens are French citizens.

Universities/specialities

French Polynesia has one university with about 3,000 students, equally divided among the departments of law, humanities and languages and science. Its degrees are recognized at European level.

Furthermore, due its biodiversity and natural resources many research organizations are present in French Polynesia, such as the Louis Malardé Institute, the “Agence des Aires Marine Protégées”, the “ Centre de recherches insulaires et observatoire de l’environnement“, the French Research Institute for Exploration of the Sea (IFREMER), the IRD (Institut de recherche pour le développement)…. In August 2009, Fa’ahotu association was created as the first Polynesian pole for innovation for the valorization of natural resources. Tahiti Fa’ahotu brings together Polynesian companies and local research and training organizations and was recognized by the French Government in May 2010 as a “cluster of companies”.

Focus

Three institutions of French Polynesia have been selected in 2011 by the Agency “2e2f” through the COMENSIUS project of the European program “Lifelong learning ”: Atuona for the Marquesas Islands, Fetuna at Raiiatea for the Leeward Islands and Rurutu in the Austral Islands. Also in the same program, two teachers have benefitted from an exchange in Madrid and Lisbon.

A partnership is also beginning to be established with the Foundation of the European Regions for Research in Education and Training (FREREF) to develop inter-regional cooperation in education and training.